By Geoffrey Mutegeki Araali
The Ugandan health sector is to continue lacking human resource in rural areas due to the proportion of doctors who come from rich families that live in urban areas, Dr Richard Nduhuura, the Minister of Health, has said.
The minister said the fact that the people who can afford to take their children to better schools and then university, which in turn helps them score better results and qualify for medical courses, tend to be rich and live in towns, meaning their sons and daughters are less keen to be deployed in rural areas when they graduate.
“It is the rich people’s children, who go to better schools, get better results, qualify for university and they stay in town. These sons and daughters of politicians, professors, among others, are the ones who can afford paying money at university for medical courses, but the problem they are brought up in town life and after school they don’t want to work in rural area,” Nduhuura said.
“The biggest problem with them is that they don’t have a calling to the profession they just join because they have passed and can afford. After getting the skills others run to business or other countries. They are so used to town life and so they shun rural areas, which they are supposed to serve, which remains a big challenge.”
He said the fact that many rich people want their sons and daughters to stay in towns and only get used to that life is an inherent problem in the society.
Nduhura made the comments while officiating the closure of the Rwenzori region surgical camp and opening of the regional scientific conference organized by Association of Surgeons of Uganda (ASOU) in conjunction with College of Surgeons of East, Central, Southern Africa (COSECSA) in Fort Portal.
Only six surgeons graduate from university every year but the majority of them leave the country for greener pastures abroad, meaning many people, especially in rural areas, miss out on lifesaving procedures.
Nduhura pledged the ministry’s support to the annual surgical camp to help more Ugandans benefit from the services offered by the surgeons.
“We are going to support the surgical camp, we will always budget for it, it is very important because it is doing the work of the Ministry of Health and I don’t see why we should not budget for it,” Nduhura said
The surgical camp saw free surgical services being offered in five hospitals in the region and one Health Center IV. A total of 470 patients were operated, 370 of which had major operations.
“We are offering free operations as a way of giving back to the community which has supported us for years. We have operated on every surgical disease both minor and major,” the association’s president Dr Peter Kizza revealed.
Kizza said that many Ugandans are suffering unnecessarily, adding: “People have cultural beliefs which they attach to surgical diseases. They think they can heal them with herbs which is not possible, others think when you are operated you are going to die, and other diseases are not painful so they don’t mind but come out when it’s too late.”
The president COSECSA Prof Christopher Samkange urged governments to support the surgeons for the work they are doing to the people.
Samkange noted that the work of COSECSA is to focus on training surgeons and providing quality services in the nine countries it covers.
The Association of Surgeons of Uganda, in conjunction with the College of Surgeons East, Central, Southern Africa (COSECSA), is holding its regional scientific conference under the theme The role of surgery in lifestyle.
The Association of Surgeons of Uganda is a voluntary group, which has been carrying out surgical camps in different parts of the country on a rotational basis for over 10 years.
The camp brought together anaesthetists, nurses and community workers, who gave their time for free in order to perform complicated surgical procedures that are not normally handled locally. Many patients can’t afford to travel to Kampala for better medical attention so the camp provides an opportunity to bring these services to the people.
There are approximately 175 surgeons in Uganda according to COSECSA, and surgeons, current ratio of one to 500,000 patients.
Hernia and goiter [a swelling in the thyroid gland] were the common surgery diseases found among patients in the Rwenzori region others include abdominal pains and urinary system infections.